Drug Policy

Berwyn Heights, MD Drug Raid Update: Cops Didn't Have a No-Knock Warrant

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It now appears that the entire raid on Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo may have been illegal.  Last week, police stormed Calvo's home without knocking, shot and killed his two black labs, and questioned him and his mother-in-law at gunpoint over a delivered package of marijuana that police now concede may have been intended for someone else.

The Washington Post reports that the police didn't even bother to get a no-knock warrant, which means the tactics they used were illegal:

A Prince George's police spokesman said last week that a Sheriff's Office SWAT team and county police narcotics officers were operating under such a [no-knock] warrant when they broke down the door of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, shooting and killing his black Labrador retrievers.

But a review of the warrant indicates that police neither sought nor received permission from Circuit Court Judge Albert W. Northrup to enter without knocking. Northrup found probable cause to suspect that drugs might be in the house and granted police a standard search warrant.

"There's nothing in the four corners of the warrant saying anything about the Calvos being a threat to law enforcement," said Calvo's attorney, Timothy Maloney. "This was a lawless act by law enforcement."

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has given the police leeway to disregard the knock-and-announce requirement. In June 2006, the Court ruled in Hudson v. Michigan that evidence seized in raids in which police fail to properly observe the knock-and-announce rule isn't subject to the Exclusionary Rule.  Justice Scalia assured us that there's a "new professionalism" taking root in police departments across the country today, rendering the Exclusionary Rule in such cases unnecessary.

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  1. rending the Exclusionary Rule in such cases unnecessary

    Rendering. Though they did render the Exclusionary rule limb from limb, as it were.

    So are these cops going to get pwned for this?

  2. Justice Scalia assured us that there’s a “new professionalism” taking root in police departments across the country today, rending the Exclusionary Rule in such cases unnecessary

    with the proper people, you have nothing to fear.

    dammit. if you’re innocent… oh, wait, you *still* have something to fear.

    Epi – if by “pwned” you mean “prmot’d” or “prazd”, then, yes.

  3. Ridiculous.
    This just makes it even more clear that the cops conducting the raid just wanted to play SWAT and robbers.
    Nothing like taking the “law” into your own hands, eh boys?

  4. Illegal?

    Or simply “against policy”?

  5. Just when I think I’m getting numb to this shit, something like this makes me nauseous all over again.

  6. We should bombard Mayor Calvo with extensive links to Mr. Balko’s reporting of these events; he can see just how often this happens to people. Hopefully, it will also ground him in the reality that “ordinary folks” and not just mayors need to be protected from overzealous LEOs who are putting all involved at risk. Any ally in the fight against these unnecessary tactics should be a welcome one.

  7. We should bombard Mayor Calvo with extensive links to Mr. Balko’s reporting of these events; he can see just how often this happens to people. Hopefully, it will also ground him in the reality that “ordinary folks” and not just mayors need to be protected from overzealous LEOs who are putting all involved at risk. Any ally in the fight against these unnecessary tactics should be a welcome one.

    Shit. That’s actually not a half-bad idea.

    Except for the fact that right now probably the only two actual thoughts coursing through his head are “Jesus Christ on a Crutch I nearly died!” and “How do I get out of this fucking mess?”, and that’s all he’s got room for.

    I’d say it’d probably do to let him calm down some before laying this on him.

  8. I’d say it’d probably do to let him calm down some before laying this on him.

    Hit his whole office with the stuff. His staff may be more calm than he is right now, but still looking at this critically.

  9. I’m starting a betting pool on this.
    Guess how many cops will be prosecuted for these thuggish illegal acts.
    I’ve got zero.

  10. We should bombard Mayor Calvo with extensive links to Mr. Balko’s reporting of these events; he can see just how often this happens to people. Hopefully, it will also ground him in the reality that “ordinary folks” and not just mayors need to be protected from overzealous LEOs who are putting all involved at risk. Any ally in the fight against these unnecessary tactics should be a welcome one.

    I’m with lmnop… it’s not a bad idea. Maybe email his office with a link to Cato’s map of botched police raids, reminding the mayor that he’s not alone, but he is at least in a position to bring about some change… at least in his jurisdiction.

    However, we’ve been exposed to enough of these Isolated Incidents to know that in a few weeks, the mayor will probably hold a press conference praising the cops. Sure, they shot his dogs… but it sent a powerful message to the area’s drug dealers.

  11. J sub D,

    Since you already took zero, can I take zero + some medals are awarded?

  12. Since this is playing out in Congress’ back yard, and being covered by the WaPo, there is a small possibility our elected overlords will pay attention to this fiasco.

    Will they seriously consider a remedy? Doubtful.

  13. Hit his whole office with the stuff. His staff may be more calm than he is right now, but still looking at this critically.

    His staff? He’s the mayor of a town that has all of two thousand people. His staff probably consisted of the two dogs that were cruelly and needlessly shot by the SWAT team.

    My thing is, the window for access to a person;s mind is extremely narrow after a traumatic event like this, but it rarely is right after the event itself (nor, obviously, can one wait too long.) There is a sweet spot, if you will, of timing where a person is still freshly angry about the ordeal but no longer consciously terrified, but before after-the-fact justifications and rationalizations set in.

  14. You are all overlooking the fact that this raid was for the children.

  15. I’m skeptical that Calvo would be sympathetic to calls for change in the WoD tactics.

    This is what he said after the incident:
    “My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs. They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they really ever considered that we weren’t.”

    Note that he identifies with the police and chalks the incident up to mistaken identity. Not a peep about the outrageous force brought to bear.

    Any changes he helps implement will be for better intelligence to ensure mistakes like this never happen again. schmuk.

  16. We should bombard Mayor Calvo with extensive links to Mr. Balko’s reporting of these events; he can see just how often this happens to people.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve read on WoD threads that this stuff will keep happening until a politician gets wrongfully raided. Well, now one has (even if he’s small time). We should seize the moment on this.

    And for all the haters saying it will never work, you may be right. But when will a chance like this come around again?

  17. And for all the haters saying it will never work, you may be right. But when will a chance like this come around again?

    Unfortunately, sooner than you might think.

  18. If the mayor is still of the view that the drug war has to be fought, this was an isolated incident, etc., “bombarding” his office with a bunch of emails won’t change his mind. Perhaps one person should take the lead and explain in non-hyperbolic language how common this is, link to the Agitator, etc.

  19. If the mayor is still of the view that the drug war has to be fought, this was an isolated incident, etc., “bombarding” his office with a bunch of emails won’t change his mind. Perhaps one person should take the lead and explain in non-hyperbolic language how common this is, link to the Agitator, etc.

    Word. Who’s up for it?

  20. nothing short of anti-SWAT vigilante squads will send the message that needs to be sent. Until then, here’s to merely hoping that pols will do anything to make this better.

  21. Justice Scalia assured us that there’s a “new professionalism” taking root in police departments across the country today, rending the Exclusionary Rule in such cases unnecessary.

    The illogic of this stance is so apparent I’m surprised his clerks put it in the opinion. The Exclusionary Rule applies in cases where the “new professionalism” hasn’t made itself felt and the rules are broken, yes?

  22. If the mayor is still of the view that the drug war has to be fought, this was an isolated incident, etc., “bombarding” his office with a bunch of emails won’t change his mind. Perhaps one person should take the lead and explain in non-hyperbolic language how common this is, link to the Agitator, etc.

    That would certainly be ideal. I live in NY and have zero political influence, and was just trying to come up with a way to do something positive about these types of events. If there is a resident hit ‘n runner who would make a strong candidate for a personal presentation, by all means make it happen. I would love to see even the slightest bit of progress made on this front.

  23. So the no-knock raid was illegal, and the cops couldn’t rely on a warrant to claim they believed in good faith that it was legal. Sounds like Calvo can sue them for all the damage they caused and, once you add in punitives, end up owning (and pwning) the cops and their first-born children.

  24. Justice Scalia assured us that there’s a “new professionalism” taking root in police departments across the country today, rendering the Exclusionary Rule in such cases unnecessary.

    Is this a…a joke? Did Antonin Scalia actually make a funny?

  25. I just wrote my representative to support H.R. 5843. Here’s what I sent:

    I am writing you today to ask that you cosponsor H.R. 5843, the Act to Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults. This legislation, introduced by Congressman Barney Frank, seeks to remove federal criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    I’m tired of seeing my taxpayer dollars go towards locking up a lot of foolish teenagers and non-violent drug offenders. Police have rapists and murderers to catch, and it sickens me that even a reputable man like the Mayor of Berwyn Heights in Maryland can have his house raided, his dogs shot, and his family intimidated at gunpoint because someone mistakenly sent him a harmless plant in the mail. Peoples lives are being ruined by these petty laws, and our money is being squandered. We should be ashamed. It’s about time someone ended it.

    I’m ready to see my taxpayer money fund something that counts. I’m ready for jails in this country to be something serious, and not just a joke: temporary housing for potheads and petty crooks. I’m ready for law and order to be taken seriously again. Jail is a place for dangerous criminals, not addicts. Police are supposed to fight crime and protect people from harm, not from their own poor decisions. Judges exist to ensure the law is carried through, they don’t exist to be the mouthpiece for rampant paternalism, or to pontificate about the morality of a drug-free lifestyle. Stop wasting my money!

    I strongly urge you to cosponsor and support H.R. 5843, to vote on the side of justice, order, and reason.

    You can write too! Send your representative a letter!
    https://secure2.convio.net/mpp/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=177

  26. the best anti-SWAT squad would consist of hundreds of protesters wielding signs and their own voices, assembling outside of local police departments across the nation . . . perhaps somebody should try organize a phone, letter, fax and protest campaign??

  27. Radley-

    Have you interviewed Mayor Calvo (yet)? I would be interested, to say the least, in what he has to say about tactics used in the War on Drugs, now that he has been to the front.

  28. I’ll bet the cops will eventually get around to claiming they did “knock and announce.” Keeping in mind that cops seem to think that placing one fingertip gently against the door and whispering “police” counts as knocking and announcing.

  29. J sub D,

    I got zero + medals + raises + paid vacation (er, paid leave pending investigation).

  30. Johnny,
    “Any changes he helps implement will be for better intelligence to ensure mistakes like this never happen again. schmuk.”

    Until we can stop this kind of activity entirely, I’d settle for “If you haven’t done anything, you have nothing to fear” to actually mean something.

  31. I guess if Mayor Calvo’s house is mistakenly invaded again, he will still think it was an isolated incident and install a revolving door in his house.

    /Some people are just born ready for enslavement.

    //Berwyn Heights may need to be bypassed by the revolution.

  32. “We should bombard Mayor Calvo with extensive links to Mr. Balko’s reporting of these events; he can see just how often this happens to people. Hopefully, it will also ground him in the reality that “ordinary folks” and not just mayors need to be protected from overzealous LEOs who are putting all involved at risk.”

    Mayor Calvo IS “ordinary folks”. True, this story made the news because he has the title of mayor, but he’s just an ordinary citizen with a regular job who decided to run for town council member. In Berwyn Heights, population 3000, residents vote for town council and whichever person gets the most votes presides over the council as mayor. Cheye’s a friendly guy so he’s been getting the most votes lately. He probably gets a little bit of money for his time, but I highly doubt he was expecting special treatment from law-enforcement due to his title.

  33. heh heh. Ruth said ‘special treatment.’

  34. The mayor is doing a news conference covered by CNN (at least) and picked a giant fight with law enforcement. He is an eloquent spokesman on this and he is pissed. He just asked the civil rights division of DOJ to investigate this and the trend in general.

    The Sheriff who pulled this crap… the original “figurative an hero”. He won’t be able to get a job picking up dog crap after this.

  35. My God.. I just saw Mayor Calvo on television, then I found this story on the Internet. I didn’t know about this until I saw he and his wife on television. This is incomprehensible! I can’t imagine!! What kind of crazy world do we live in when even law enforcement is as nutty as criminals on the streets? These idiots, who call themselves law enforcement officers, should not be shrouded under ‘a law enforcement mistake.’ I have a pet that’s a family member, not just a pet.. our family would be beyond devastation if this would have happened to us. Our hearts go out to the Mayor and his family and in my opinion any punishment for these officers won’t be harsh enough and they should never be law enforcement officers again..idiots like these give good law enforcement officers a bad name.

  36. This is an outrage! I think that Prince George’s County sheriff and the county’s chief of police both need to be removed IMMEDIATELY. If I was the Mayor….I would sue both of these men. This is a total outrage that the stupid cops shot those dogs. The cops need to lose their jobs…and be put in prison. What utter stupidity and needless violence!! I’m sure glad I don’t live in Maryland!!!!

  37. as a retired deputy sheriff, i believe there needs more oversight to all law enforcement. Lets add pinhole cameras to badges recording continously. Courts will ALWAYS take the testimony of police over and individual without other evidence. Cops willingly and readily each day “add” the required basic facts to a report to get an arrest wether it occurred or not. For a fellow cop to rat on another will end ur career if not a trumped charge by the bad cops. Its also illegal to NOT report another cop thus the secrecy they are trapped either way and wont tell later. We need more oversight

  38. Check out the CNN video of the mayor’s press conference. If he only changed “county ” to “country”, he would be right.

  39. I hope several police officers lose their jobs over this. Also, I hope this will scare the crap out of departments around the country.

    This is abuse of power at its “finest”

  40. are these the sworn orfficers of the law who testify under oath ?

  41. This will open into a large-scale internal investigation…it will hit the mainstream media and i am already assuming that Mac and Bam will be making some type of decision.

    Maybe one of them will make the statement that the police of this great country need to become helpful and serving civil servants again. Instead, it appears that the current commando wannabe police tactics are ridiculously arranged, hiding being, ironically, a wording of, the law. Good cop, bad cop…good initiative, bad judgement. Tough guy is gonna cry his way to jail on this one I do believe!

    This kind of stupid shit never happened when I was in the military doing my time ‘TAD’. Whatever the case, it’s either deep politics waiting to play out, or the Police Department of the country will appear totally idiotic and unable to show competence!

    All hell will break loose then…won’t it? 🙂

    That could become anarchy…wouldn’t it? 🙂

    Think about it…crazy, huh?

    Now, I ask: Are “YOU” experienced?

    (Sorry Brother…My vote is for experience!)

    Rock on, keep it green. Peace out, and vote!

  42. All this over a little weed? Don’t we have bigger problems in this country?

  43. When the SWAT officers fired at the dogs, why didn’t another SWAT officer mistaken it for gunfire coming from the “drug dealers” and fire back? What? They’re white? Ok.. funny how change seems more likely to happen when a white mayor’s home gets raided.

  44. They are not police officers, they are murderers. Berwyn Heights Police Dept….you should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t just shoot innocent animals….especially if they are running away from you. You took away something that was very important to those people. If you did that to my dogs….oh boy, I would own your department!!!

  45. I want to know more about how/why the police were tracking this marijuana package. I’m still unclear what this operation was all about. Sounds like a bunch of idiot cops who forgot to go to college. Losers.

  46. MKN: The Berwyn Heights Police Department wasn’t involved in this dog killing raid. Officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department were.

    That being said, Melvin C. High, the piece of excrement Chief of Police of Prince George’s County, should be fired, and the scumbags who killed those two dogs should be hacked into small piece and fed to hungry dogs!

  47. Just another example of total bureaucratic encompetence. How many people have been killed by the use of marijuana vs DUI’S

  48. I believe that Mayor Calvo should sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress and non-economic damages. Imagine being handcuffed on the floor, face down, with your mother in law, while your dogs lie bleeding and dying around you?

    Not only should the FBI come in and on the PG county police department which is evidently out of control, but those officers need to be sued for killing that mans dogs deliberately to terrorize him.

    As one whose animal was harmed at the veterinarians, leaving him brain damaged from an insulin overdose, I know it is heartbreaking to watch your pet suffer knowing that it is needless. Knowing that it happened as a result of authority figures that our system protects.

    The government is not of the people, by the people, for the people anymore and it hasn’t been in a long time. The powerful protect themselves and each other and the little guy be damned, that includes the mayor of a small town.

    No one will ever convince me that shooting the dogs wasn’t a terror tactic designed to instill fear. They probably will all suffer PTSD too as a result of this. I say nail the entire department to the wall, jail the sheriff, and fire everyone else.

    They are soul-less and evil.

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